Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal

by Mal Peet

In 1944, two members of the Dutch resistance stationed in Britain for special training... read more

In 1944, two members of the Dutch resistance stationed in Britain for special training return to their homeland on a mission for the British Secret Service. Their code names are Tamar and Deet, and they are best friends. Tamar will be returning to the relative safety of a farm run buy a young woman name Marijke. They are in love, although he’s told no one, not even Deet, about their relationship. Deet will be staying in the nearby village. His undercover role is much more visible and dangerous, something he begins to resent as the strain takes a toll on his perspective. His occasional trips to the farm provide respite from the unyielding tension, and also a chance to spend time with Marijke, with whom he becomes infatuated. In 1994, a fifteen-year-old girl named Tamar is thrust into the middle of a mystery after her grandfather commits suicide. He left her a box full of crossword puzzles, maps, and coded messages, and she is convinced that unraveling their meaning will lead her to an answer about why he took his own life. She’d like to ask her grandmother, Marijke, but the older woman’s memories are too clouded, and her own father abandoned the family years before. Mal Peet’s intricately plotted novel of intrigue, betrayal, and love moves back and forth between the taut World War II narrative and teenage Tamar’s winding journey to arrive at an answer. Peet’s historical characters in particular are achingly human, displaying the best and worst of themselves under intense pressure during incredible times. His modern-day protagonist finds purpose in a search that reveals even more complex dimensions to characters whose lives and stories Tamar herself will continue. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2008

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